A Much Needed Win

Eddie Nketiah takes advantage of a Southampton bogey to score.

Arsenal faced Southampton under a blazing hot sun but started the match cold. They were initially nervous on the ball and unable to maintain possession. Fortunately, this lasted only about 5 minutes. For virtually the entire match after, the players were comfortable passing the ball out even under pressure.

A returning Xhaka showed us some of what we’d been missing with a super through-ball that found Saka’s run from deep. Eddie finished the move by putting the ball in the net but it was chalked off for offside. A long ball from Tierney also sent Auba through on goal, only for him to strike the bar via McCarthy’s thumb. Unlucky or a great save. But a few minutes later the goalkeeper committed a grave error. Under very little pressure, he casually played a pass straight to Nketiah who ran through to score in the open goal. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Southampton troubled us with a dangerous cross, and one through ball that was cut out by Mustafi. But apart from that, they weren’t creating much. Arsenal were in control without being spectacular. A couple of promising counter attacks came to nothing, and the referee brought the first half to a close.

Second–half battle

The Saints came out in the second half more determined to make a game of it, and they put together a great move. We were fortunate that Bertrand’s cross didn’t find its intended target, and a long range shot is all that came from it. Arsenal responded with a fantastic long kick from Emi to pick out Auba, whose square pass would’ve led to an easy tap in if it wasn’t cut out by the defender.

All the same, Southampton were posing an increasing threat and Arsenal kept dropping deeper. A period of poor concentration and an injury had us under pressure, and Arteta decided to make a change. Willock came on for Pepe, while Kola for the melting Scotsman was a straight switch. Southampton kept coming at Arsenal though. A cross found Redmond in a dangerous position, but he shot into the side netting. Shane Long had a shot on goal from a ball over the top. Martinez made the save, and managed to gather the ball before an onrushing Ings could get a foot in.

Arsenal made their final batch of substitutions to bring on Lacazette and AMN in place of Nketiah and Ceballos. Soon after, Auba ran through on goal from a careless Southampton backpass and was brought down just outside the box. A red card to Stephens for denying a goalscoring chance, and Lacazette stepped up to take the free kick. He hit it against the wall, but followed it up with a powerful snapshot on the rebound. The GK managed to block the shot with his body, but could do nothing when Willock followed up and scored from the loose ball. Arsenal managed to play out the remaining few minutes easily enough. 2-0 and job done.

The Shape(s):

Our burned bananas came in all shapes and sizes today (Macey is a GIANT) It was fascinating to see all the formations we used in this game. The idea seems to have been to overload on our left flank, which we did.

At various points we were playing a 523, 424, 541, or some strange 432 +1 where Saka was a roaming left flank presence with no fixed position. With so many changes in different phases of the game, and substitutions, we could easily have become disjointed, but the transitions were seamless and the gameplan effective.

We were defensively sound and never caught short of numbers at the back. We were always dangerous on the counter. And the overload caused Southampton problems, especially in the first half.

It wasn’t the most spectacular performance. After all, we got somewhat lucky with both goals. There will be tougher opponents and matches played at a quicker tempo, which might present a sterner test. But I am hugely encouraged by what I saw from Arsenal today. A gameplan for the future.

Miscellaneous bullet points:

  • Speaking of the future, how great is it that both goals were scored by our academy graduates. Nearly half of our 20 man squad came from the youth system.
  • Martinez was really good today. Not the busiest day for him but some of his passes were brilliant. Made the saves that he needed to, and was generally very assured. Long may that continue, and I am very happy for him.
  • Arsenal were much more robust in the tackle. Great controlled aggression with the possible exception of Saka, who was almost reckless. A different referee might even have sent him off.
  • Rob Holding’s performance and hairline both say he’s the next Steve Bould.
  • Tierney’s formal stand-at-ease in the tunnel before the second half is funny but endearing.
  • Hassenhutl suddenly aged 10 years at the final whistle. Weird.
  • Not as weird as the fact that Liverpool have won the Premier League. Congratulations to them.

 Written by: Shard. Find him on twitter @shardgooner

16 comments on “A Much Needed Win

  1. Fair performance all round.
    Good to see Mustafi have a half decent match as well.
    The whole Ozil thing is getting a bit tedious now, he needs to move on and good luck to him.


  2. Good old Jerry Edgar, sniffing out that first goal


  3. what sort of match report was that, not a single bit of outrage at Ozil keeping the Sun off him with an umbrella, just like the rest of our subs,


  4. The umbrella was throwing shade at Ozil.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Please find the latest team news update from our medical team ahead of our Emirates FA Cup quarter-final at Sheffield United on Sunday.

    Calum Chambers
    Left knee. Ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee during Chelsea (h) on 29 December. Rehabilitation post-surgical repair continuing and currently progressing well with running and gym work. Will not be available for the current schedule of remaining 2019/20 matches.

    Bernd Leno
    Right knee. Sustained moderate ligament sprain during Brighton & Hove (a) on 20 June. Aiming to return to full training in four to six weeks.

    David Luiz
    Available for selection after serving two-match suspension.

    Pablo Mari
    Left ankle. Sustained significant sprain to ankle ligaments during Manchester City (a) on Wednesday. Has had a successful procedure to the injury this week. Aiming to return to full training in two to three months.

    Gabriel Martinelli
    Left knee. Sustained injury during training on 21 June. Successful arthroscopic procedure undertaken to repair a lesion in the cartilage of the left knee. Will not be available for the current schedule of remaining 2019/20 matches.

    Cedric Soares
    Integrating back into full training following facial injury. Successful procedure has taken place further to nasal fracture sustained in training. Aiming to be available for selection after Sheffield United (a).

    Kieran Tierney
    Available for selection after suffering muscle cramps during Southampton (a) on Thursday.

    Lucas Torreira
    Right ankle. Sustained fracture to right ankle during Portsmouth (a) on 2 March. Progressing well and aiming to return to full training in the forthcoming days.

    As part of Premier League protocol, all members of our first team squad and support staff continue to be regularly tested for COVID-19.

    Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.


  6. Everyone at Arsenal is saddened by the news that Theo Foley has passed away at the age of 83.

    Theo made his name as a player for Northampton Town, and captained the Cobblers as they rose through the divisions to reach the First Division in 1965. It remains the only season that Northampton have featured in the top flight.

    But the former Ireland international is perhaps best known for his spell as George Graham’s assistant between 1986 and 1990. A highly respected coach, who was a hugely popular member of the dressing room, he will always be remembered as one of the heroes from our title-winning season in 1989.

    Theo made many great friends among players and staff during his time at Arsenal and his death will be felt keenly by all those in the game who knew him.

    Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

    Rest in peace, Theo.

    Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. just a simple question

    can any of you recall any player who became World Class, who by the time they reached the age of 21 was not already excellent doing at least one skill of the game, be it tackling, passing, assisting, scoring, dribbling, crossing.

    yes I am asking this due to twitter discussions about Matteo Guendouzi, where I keep getting told he will be world class, has massive potential, has a very high ceiling(yeah I really love this new speak)
    I’ve been told that his displays v Spurs and Aston Villa are evidence enough that he will be world class, its the nearest I’ve got to an answer when I’ve asked what is it he is excellent at.

    I’m not having a go at Guendouzi, I really do want to know what it is that so many people see in him to believe he has the makings of a world beater. I have asked many many times since the hype over him started, but so far no one has given me an explanation.

    I see him as a very self assured young man, who has handled the pressure of playing first team football very well indeed, and I know so many players never go on to fulfill their potential due to a lack of self confidence, but surely its not enough to base a view that he will be world class on


  8. Mikel Arteta had a strong connection with the Emirates FA Cup as a player – and he wants to repeat that as a head coach.

    Our former midfielder lifted the trophy in 2014 after a dramatic Wembley comeback against Hull City, and he stands three wins from getting his hands on the cup again.

    Ahead of the sixth-round trip to Sheffield United, Mikel took part in a virtual press conference.

    On the agenda: how a trophy can galvanise a team, Granit Xhaka’s vocal leadership, Hector Bellerin’s return journey from injury – and the inspiration he takes from Liverpool.

    Here’s a full transcript:

    on his reaction to Liverpool winning the Premier League…
    Well I think they’ve come so far as a club, as a team, in the last few seasons. I think they’ve set a very clear club culture that they have been able to transmit to the supporters and generate belief. I think they have a very clear philosophy in the way they want to play, the way they approach every single game, and then they also have really good recruitment starting from the staff, the coach and all the players that they’ve signed specifically for the way they want to play. Congratulations to them.

    on whether Liverpool are an inspiration for what he’d like to achieve…
    Well yes because they were in a very difficult position four years ago and they made a lot of right decisions, some very difficult decisions, some unpopular decisions, but the right decisions for them. And they’ve been very consistent with their messages, very clear messages from top to bottom. They have this mentality to go into every game with the same spirit and mentality to win the game.

    on what it would do for the players to win the Emirates FA Cup…
    We are very excited. It’s a competition that is very linked to this football club, that has won it more times than anyone else in this country. The players are excited. Obviously having the chance to go to Wembley, even if it’s empty, it’s such a special occasion. So we’ll try hard but we’re facing a difficult opponent for sure. But the boys are excited about it.

    on what it did for him and the team in 2014…
    It was 10 years since we had won anything else and Arsene [as well]. We could see that it was the year we could have the opportunity to win it. We all were up for it. We had belief and we wanted to go and create something special again. I think that was the platform to build what we did again in the next few years.

    on what catches his eye about Sheffield United…
    The clarity of the idea of how they play and how they approach football games. Very clear plans, very clear things, very clear patterns and roles. They have a manager who has transmitted to the players how he wants to play. They did really well last year and this season as well, look where they are.

    on how he manages his squad between PL and FA Cup games…
    Well we’ve been unfortunate because we’ve picked up a lot of injuries in the last few weeks. We need players to recover as well. We are playing every three days and their condition with this hot climate is getting harder and harder. For sure we’re going to use some of the players that we used in the last game, but we’ll have to rotate some of them as well. We have to manage the squad now in the best possible way because it’s Wednesday, then Saturday, then Wednesday again. The games are catching up and players are still not in the best condition to compete [so we need to manage the squad].

    on whether having no fans in the stadium devalues reaching Wembley…
    I think it’s always exciting to have the chance to go to Wembley. You want to play the occasions. Yes, OK it’s the game, but the occasion is what makes it so much more special as a day. To do that, you need people. It’s all about entertainment and entertainment is what it is because you have energy, you have passion from the fans and you feel the energy in the ground. Without that, obviously it’s never going to be the same.

    on our connection with the FA Cup…
    Absolutely. What we did in recent years is pretty remarkable and difficult to achieve because it’s a lot of games and a lot of tricky situations that you have to go through. But game management is a really important thing in these times and we need to know how to play the 90 minutes, the extra-time and sometimes the penalties. It’s a mind game as well, this competition.

    on playing the occasion…
    No I think we have had no guarantees that we can have crowds in the stadium in the next few weeks so I think the Premier League has waited for a situation where they could provide a safe environment to the players and all the staff and then slowly we start progressing. This industry cannot stop for seven months with so many people depending on it and I think they have done the right thing. It’s not ideal but it is much better than what we had two months ago so we have to adapt to it and the world is changing and we cannot be any different, we have to adapt. We know that it is all about the people, it is all about the atmosphere that is created in the stadium and the energy that a good game needs. Without supporters, it is never going to be the same.

    on young players…
    I have a lot of faith in the young talent that we have at the football club, we need the right stability and the right foundations around [the young players] to make sure that they develop in the right way, at the right moment and with the right amount of pressure behind them. In order to do that it is a process and if you want to speed up that process you risk burning them and burning that process and we cannot do that. We have some great young players who have been playing probably more than they should have been doing but they are showing great maturity and the personalities to play in difficult moments which is great for their experience. But as well we need the other players to support them in the right way and that’s why we’re trying to achieve this balance to be very competitive but also excited about the future ahead of us.

    on winning the FA Cup and a player and as a head coach with the same team
    I will try to transmit how beautiful it is, a lot of the players haven’t experienced what Wembley means and I have to try to convince them that it’s worth the effort to go again after three days, after the effort they put in at Southampton. I am sure they are very willing to do that, the rewards are really really nice and let’s try to go again and try.

    on team news…
    No, no news [beyond the club update earlier on Friday].

    on reports over Guendouzi possibly leaving the club…
    As I said yesterday in the press conference, whatever internal [issues] we have we will deal with them privately. I’m never going to make any of that public.

    on whether he thinks Guendouzi will be an Arsenal player next season…
    All the players that are here, I’m counting on them. If they want to jump on the boat they are more than welcome. That’s always my mindset – I’m here to help all of them to improve individually and collectively, and that is my job.

    on Hector Bellerin needing time since his injury to find his best form…
    As you said he’s had a lot of injuries in the past season that hasn’t allowed him to be very consistent, even in training or in the games that he’s played. And obviously when that happens your level of consistency in performance will always drop. But the effort that he puts in, the commitment that he shows to the club and the players is always at the top. And his performances can improve, of course they can, and he’s trying hard to do that. We are here to help him.

    on Granit Xhaka’s vocal leadership…
    Yeah, he’s a natural leader. He’s someone who is always 1,000 per cent committed, not just for himself but to help all his teammates all the time. I’m happy that you can hear him more now.

    on whether Xhaka could wear the armband in the future…
    Hopefully I have 24 captains who are willing to take leadership wherever they like. There is not only one way to be a captain, you can be a captain in many different ways. Be yourself, express yourself, play with the passion and set an example to your teammates. That is, for me, a leader.

    Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.


  9. Sam Dean
    · 2h
    Since Arteta’s appointment, Matteo Guendouzi has started four of 13 league games. #AFC have lost three of those and drawn one


  10. Guendo- good passer, vision and the ability to beat his man- like a poor man´s rosicky I would say. I love it when a player can create space with dribbling through the middle and only players i can think of right now are oxlade when i cm and rosicky and guendo- jack was the expert at it


  11. Ed’s

    Matteo has started in four of the PL games under Arteta.

    It’s too small a pool of numbers to help with any true understandings yet there were no victories in any of those games.

    I’m annoyed he’s taken minutes away in CM from academy prospects.

    Perhaps he’ll be half as good as Sami Khadeira one day. But his agent mates including Unai will want to eek out what they can from his stalling career, any development won’t happen at the Arsenal anyway.

    Thanks for the memories Matteo, Raul, and the friends or relations of agents who host blogs that attacked the club for a decade and led us to this nadir which we could all easily predict – as we all know who these palm greasing vampires are – but it is time to say: Goodbye!


  12. Lest anyone forgets, the bloggers who’ve spent the last period slagging off Xhaka and actually praising Matteo at times were indeed the same self declared idiots who proclaimed that Ramsey and Özil couldn’t play football together (just after we saw them win three fa cups in four years!!!!!).


    The blaggers may evidentially undeniably know sweet fuck all about the football. But they do know some agents.

    “I really like Raul”

    What a shower of ****s pardon me.


  13. my new Collie, the latest named Bran, in a long line of Collies called Bran in my family.



  14. Was wondering that the WOBs who say Wenger should have left in 2008 or by 2014 after FA cup victory. Can they answer if he had left in 2014 how we would have finished 3rd in 2015 and 2,nd in 2016 and win another 2 FA cups.
    Surely the new manager won’t have achieved 2nd and 3rd position and win 2 trophies as well.
    Infact people who say Wenger was regressing can shut up there mouths as he finished 2nd and 3rd with minimal spendings when City Chelsea United were spending big money every year.

    I would say if the fans kept backing Wenger I think he still had the fire to go for another rebuild and kept us at the Top for another couple of years.


  15. Matteo is a great passer of the ball and already has good vision, he is also hard in tackle and covers ground well.
    At the moment he wants to play the Hollywood pass everytime he gets the ball which leads him to either a misplaced pass or hanging on to it to long both ending in loss of possession or he gets fouled or has to turn back both stopping the flow of our play and slowing breaks.
    At City he was sitting slightly to deep right on our CBs toes giving Cities midfielders time and space on the ball and by the time he engaged they were away leaving him in no man’s land.
    With time he will learn better positional play, better timing on tackling and interceptions but most important of all he will learn to play quicker giving him more time on the ball and in turn more options for his passing ability.


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