Mid Table Clash.

Good morning all.

A weird kick off time. 7.15 P.M. on Sunday evening, sees Arsenal hosting Aston Villa in a mid table clash. It’s 9th vs 10th with the visitors being in front on goal difference only. We have conceded only 7 goals, that’s great, until you consider we have only scored 9, that’s not so great.

A good win could propel either side into the top 4, so it’s quite a big game, what with the international break coming up, sitting at the top end would make us all feel better during yet another interlul.

With games having come thick and fast there seems to have two distinked teams emerged, and it’s a day for team 1.

I’m sure it will be 3 at the back, but which 3? David Luiz is fit again and his long pings seem to be our main source of creativity , I know , I know, but that’s the reality, so he could well come back in. Gabriel would seem to be a shoe in, and Rob Holding has done nothing to suggest he should be left out, that could be our 3, which would allow Tierney to move to wingback. However, Arteta does like Kieran on the left of a 3, which means Saaka can play, it’s a big call for Mikel.

In centre midfield Partey would be massive favourite to start. Most likely partnered by Elneney, but if Luiz doesn’t start, perhaps Xhaka will feature because of his better long passing. Establishing who are our number one starters is becoming difficult. That’s good, because that competition should drive the individuals on.

I feel sure Aubameyang and Lacazette will start, and I suspect Willian will be the third man, but who knows what Mikel thinks. It seems he has a slight variation to suit every opponent, and I have no idea what this variation might be, and certainly no clue what it should be.

The rare win away at United has turned a poor spell into a hopeful one. There’s no doubt it’s transformed the mood, even I am more hopeful that our style could achieve our goal of top 4, something I just didn’t see a week ago. We must score more, so let’s hope tonight is the start.

Enjoy the game.

Pedantic George.

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88 comments on “Mid Table Clash.

  1. Sometimes these games happen. Especially so in these strange times. It won’t be the end of the world.


  2. Arteta lucky there are no fans in the stadium, he would have been booed off both at half time and full time, and it would not have been the first time this season

    8 games played, 4 wins, 4 defeats, 9 goals scored, 10 goals conceded, 12pts, and sit in 11th place.


  3. I actually think it does Villa a disservice to label them mid table. They are a good team and they are only sitting mid table because they have a couple of games in hand.
    Arsenal however like it or not are mid table at the moment.


  4. foreverheady, this is not a one off. The team has not performed well this season.


  5. Pepe’s tame effort the only shot we got on target in the whole game, Villa had 5 on target
    we have Aubameyang who has been at top of scoring charts since he joined us once again not have a shot on goal, seen it reported he has had 10 shots all season, what ever Arteta’s attacking plan is, it is totally broken, football reasons, trust the process, yada yada yada


  6. Disgusting performance, if he won’t pick Ozil for whatever reason, Xhaka is surely the next one who can make things happen from MF, but unless he is injured, he seems to have fallen out of favour since Parteys arrival.
    Elneny and Cebaillos, a partnership that clearly needs working on!
    Very poor, this one is on the manager, the side seems to lack confidence, and the forwards just look pissed off. Willian defied explanation for a supposed pro footballer, and Lacca and Auba came close.
    Really need the verve of someone like Alexis, or Martinelli
    Arteta should be on the naughty step after this one , hope Edu is tough enough and removed enough to ask a few questions

    Liked by 1 person

  7. JB
    Trade mark sign
    8 games in. 4 hours without scoring from open play. Our £300k / week star player has one goal from open play this season.


  8. Good comments from Adrian Clarke. And yes PaulN you are right. But we were good last week, not so much tonight.


  9. our first 8 league results last season

    won 1-0 Newcastle
    won 2-1 Burnley
    lost 3-1 Liverpool
    drew 2-2 Spurs
    drew 2-2 Watford
    won 3-2 Aston Villa
    drew 1-1 Man Utd
    won 1-0 bournemouth

    that is 4 wins 3 draws and 1 defeat, 13 goals scored, 11 conceded, 15pts

    this season 4 wins, 4 defeats, 9 goals scored, 10 goals conceded, 12pts,

    good job the narrative around Arteta is so good or he would be in a world of trouble


  10. almost six and a half hours of play since AFC scored a goal from open play in the EPL


  11. What did Adrian Clarke say?
    Arteta saying we weren’t a team, and apparently is the first time he has seen that.
    Perhaps he needs his number one team player back in the side , Mo has been fantastic in some games, esp Utd, but For what he has in energy, he lacks some of the creativity of Xhaka. And, then there is the man of the moment, Willock?
    Lacca and Willian well out of sorts , Auba looks pissed off at times, confused at others, his supply routes have dried up.
    I suspect Arteta is trying to be too clever , too many systems, and tinkering to much. That will either work in time as the players get accustomed to the complexities, or as with Emery, he will lose the dressing room if it doesn’t

    Liked by 1 person

  12. If this was Mikel’s second full season he would really be in trouble in fact the feelers for a replacement would already out.
    Our front three are awful and we rely on the CB’s for creation, the best move of the match for us was Gabriel into Holding who lashed it …..wide.
    Auba can’t control the ball, Laca can’t shoot and Willian can’t make a decision or cross the ball. Add Pepe a winger who can’t take people on and tactically a team who plays backwards most of the time and you can see were in trouble.
    We did seem to play well at manure however looking back it makes you wonder on some of their performances this season maybe we played well but they were also bad.
    At no time during the Villa game did we look like winning. They always looked dangerous coming forward while we looked boring, dull and ineffective.
    It again was annoying that there keeper exuded an air of confidence while ours was fumbling his way through the game.
    Eight games is to early to jump off any cliffs but that was another very worrying performance.


  13. Yes, Foreverheady these games happen. What a shame they seem to be happening almost every week.

    You may think that I am enjoying this.

    I am not.

    I am angry at what has been perpetrated on our wonderful team.

    It has been destroyed from the inside and turned into a laughing stock.

    However, as these shambolic performances are endemic in this team so that I am now so accustomed to it, I no longer care.

    How do you expect your £300k a week striker to score goals, when you have no one able or allowed to pass the ball to him and give him the opportunities.

    2 shots on target, again, at home and no goals.

    This is getting worse than Emery.

    In the meantime, our best player continues to train every day and is paid to do nothing, whilst other players do nothing for what they are paid to do.

    What a mess

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Think we are way too slow and ponderous coming out from the back, and telegraphing the teams subsequent attacking moves, allowing opponents time to set up counters, and what’s more, making it hard for our forwards to get enough service ( though not great when they did get it today)
    If Arteta persists with this, it will either slot into place beautifully one day, or he will be sacked to save the club from possible relegation. I recommend the manager alters his course in some way


  15. I worry that Arteta’s pain by numbers football is stifling and even confusing some players, when saka burst onto the scene he was very direct, took on men for fun, but now he is not sure if he is a fullback, wingback or some sort of forward, he and Tierney and even Aubameyang are taking up the same positions on the left, leaving no room for any of them to do what they are best at.
    Willian gets in the team ahead of Pepe, and it seems to have hit pepe’s confidence. Again it really feels like Pepe’s is not for Arteta, as no matter how well he plays the boss is not generous with praise for him, and is quick to leave him out of the team. Pepe said this week that he is being asked to play differently than how he played in France, they way that actually seen us spunk £72M on him, and when you add in that Willian also said he is being asked to play differently than he did at CFC, it leads me to question why bring in a player to play differently than the way that caught you eye in the first place.
    Tierney is another whose game no longer seems natural to him. As I said during the game, he no longer puts in a cross or pass first time, its take a few touches, then cross or pass, and by that time the opposition have got back in place.

    I know its suggested that the big plan is for all this paint by numbers football to become second nature to the players and so it will speed up, it will become quick and free flowing, I just don’t think that happens with attacking football

    Liked by 1 person

  16. from Goal

    The Gunners once again struggled in front of goal against Dean Smith’s side to equal an unwanted milestone

    Arsenal’s failure to hit the back of the net in Sunday’s defeat against Aston Villa means they have now scored their fewest amount of goals at this stage of the season for 22 years.

    A double from Ollie Watkins and a Buyako Saka own goal earned all three points for Villa at Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners failing to score for the third time in four Premier League matches.

    It means Mikel Arteta’s side have now scored just nine goals in eight Premier League games this season; their fewest at this stage of a league campaign since 1998-99. It was also their worst home league defeat since a 3-0 loss against Manchester City in December 2019.

    Their struggles against Villa were perhaps symbolised by the performance of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who played 90 minutes in a Premier League home game without attempting a shot for the first time as a member of Arsenal


  17. ian, not that we have perfect players but I really don’t thinks its the players, I’m convinced Arteta is the problem. The players are being over managed thus they are overthinking. There is nothing instinctive about our play going forward. Its still early but the real problem is we are not growing as a team.

    I fully agree with you Mandy.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. ten of the 20 epl clubs have minus goal difference at the moment, and AFC are one of those 10


  19. Eds, it reminds me of when Guardiola went to Bayern (not that we have their talent). He over managed the creativity and instinctiveness out of a great team by trying to force his Barca system on them and they were simply nowhere as good as they were prior to him. He leaves and now they are once again the best team in the world.


  20. The support is turning on Arteta, we have #ArtetaOut already. I cannot believe how similar this is to Emery. To the point that we were actually playing some decent football until they stamped their style of play on the team. He needs to quit throwing players under the bus and take a good hard look in the Mirror. Carlo Ancelotti should have replaced Arsene, if he needed to be replaced.


  21. is it just the one win or is it two in the last year without Xhaka in the starting team


  22. Xhaka is a key player for threading passes to forwards. Those forwards certainly weren’t at their best today, but very little to feed off, that will effect them. Mo is a decent player, but not so good in that Xhaka role, Partey was injured and Cebaillos out of form.
    I wonder if parteys arrival has put a few noses out of joint ?
    Also getting the impression the team suffer ( even more than usual ) creatively without David Luiz
    Arteta has a lot to sort out, I don’t think he is as vulnerable as Emery this time last year, but ….
    What is it with Arsenal and November….or is that just my perception?


  23. I agree Mandy and I think there maybe a bit of player unrest. I have wondered for a while if Auba is making a point about Ozil’s omission by not going for it in front of goal. He obviously isn’t getting the service but to me his body language has changed.
    When he and Laca are not playing and the camera picks them up they spend a lot of time appearing to smirk and laugh.
    I don’t know it’s just a feeling but Ozil’s agent did say he had dressing room sources.
    This is however a worrying season as a lot of teams have emerged stronger and the top six could be any combination particularly without home advantage.
    To increase the pain yesterday Spurs were sitting top of the table for a while.


  24. Ech, didn’t watch, but result and, by sounds of it, performance, very worrying and disheartening.

    Occurred to me in Utd game that, although they were poor on day, they did mount a strong fight in last 10-15, which we are rarely if ever able to do when behind these days.

    Arteta is in tough spot now in that it looks like radical change may be required to ideas- starting again almost, in terms of attacking play- which is not what you want after 40 games or whatever it is in charge and not in great form/position in league.

    Change it and don’t get result and then pressure increases for next game, a little more unsettled, and so on.


  25. I am fully aware on the title of this Blog but it’s giving me a headache


  26. By way, was Villa’s style a variant of defend and counter? Think vast majority of prem teams are now, with most becoming adept at it. Little doubt it’s our way as well now.

    Prevalance or supremacy of it as tactic means all teams have to try develop way of combating the style, even if only for when they are behind in games. While big teams need it more than rest as they face it more often.

    I feel pretty forlorn when thinking how we can get the hefty improvement we need. Youngsters Willock, Nelson and Smith-Rowe all seem viable candidates but have alarming sense we are near enough starting from scratch trying to find solutions, and with four defeats from eight trial and error doesn’t seem great option, nor has there been any indication Mikel will try to radically alter attacking play.


  27. When we start looking for creatively from a centre back does that not indicate a major problem?

    Someone said that Cellabos was ‘out of form’. Has there ever been a time when he was genuinely on form and not just in order to satisfy the wishful thinkers?

    This is a player who was seemingly not good enough to get on the bench at Real and we fell over ourselves not only to rent him last year, when he achieved precious little, but could not wait to pay more to get him back this season when the prospect of him doing better seems to have been dashed already.

    Perhaps the reason he is not in the Spanish squad is that he is simply not good enough.

    We are woeful with no indication that our coaches have the ideas and ability to bring about improvements.

    I do not want Arteta to be removed, I simply would like him to realise that he is barking up the wrong tree and to change course.

    If that means bringing back Ozil and like Emery eating humble pie, then let’s do it.

    Can we wait until January to do that or can we change the registered squad now?

    Perhaps if we acknowledged that one of the injured players included has no prospect of playing before January and asking to swap.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Can’t imagine there’s any way to change registered squad. Bleakly amused last night thinking about what happens if Ozil returns to fold in January and is very good between then and end of season.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll risk being shown up like that. Some similarities as players so I think quite a lot about contrast between Mata and Ozil. Unlike Mesut, don’t think Mata ever had any golden period at Utd (though did at Chelsea) and though he’s out of team more often than in, still used quite a lot as an option.

    Unless big things happened behind scene we have no concept of, just don’t see justification in not using Ozil in same way. Wenger did mention in book how much Ozil needs to have full trust of coach, feel loved, to get to best, so maybe there’s element of that- ie you can’t dip him in and out- but still not enough to explain it.


  29. What happened to the saying that the hardest thing to do in football was to stick the ball in the back of the net.

    Somewhere along the lines the entire management staff has forgotten this principle and focused on the not so hard element of football.


  30. I see many Gooners putting forward the notion that this defeat to Aston Villa will see Arteta change track and go far more attacking, but I fear that this is just wishful thinking, as anything I’ve seen from us under Arteta suggests that he is far more likely to be more annoyed at us letting in 3 goals, than us not scoring or creating chances, and so we are more likely to be even more cautious in our approach to the Leeds game.

    as for those thinking that Arteta will turn to Nelson, Willock, Smith-Rowe or any other youth to break our creative problems, don’t delude yourselves, Arteta can say all the nice things he wants about these lads, the proof is in the pudding, and nothing he has done so far suggests that he wants to or is keen to give young players a chance. Saka the only player who has forced his way in, and even last season when he was playing very well, he was in and out of the team. We must not forget that Arteta wanted Nelson to go on loan this season, as he did too with Saliba, and the only thing I’ve seen from him on EMS is that he wanted him to train with us for the first half of the season. Willock has had two fines games in the EL and not been in the EPL squad for either game afterwards, does that suggest he is keen to give him a go. And last but not least we had all these lads here when Arteta decided that what this squad needed was Willian on a 3 year deal on massive wages. Look at the actions not what you hope Arteta will do. As someone pointed out today, Arteta is not slow about pointing out any fault in Pepe’s contribution but has nothing but good things to say about Willian’s performances. I tell you something, I would expect Arteta to drop Saka before he will drop Willian


  31. Was not going to comment as it only seems i comment when we lose but people seem to think that now Arteta will start using his plan B of releasing all the forwards and attacking midfielders at once and abandoning his emery imitation. Deluded. People wont even recognise that he has as bad a record or worse than emery at this time.

    Sad to say the spirit of Moyes has settled deep within that one and my respect for anything he has done in the past is out the window for him saying that it is his decision and for footballing reasons that our best and most creative player that is getting paid a fortune is not even registered to play football.
    Then he wants to moan about creativity.

    He is worse than emery in my eyes as he had the history of playing at Arsenal, he had experience of the Arsenal class, the playing style, expectations etc and he still served us this bullshit and threw Ozil under the bus.

    I see a still image from last nights game of 9 players on the edge of our penalty area against Villa like we was playing Bayern Munich – WTF!!

    If this is all from the board then he is spineless and stands for nothing and falls on his knees every time the board say drop.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Although service to the front three wasn’t fantastic that’s not why we were so impotent.
    Auba gives nothing to the side if he doesn’t score and his first touch is awful, Laca can’t hold the ball up and when he does have the ball he won’t release it quickly enough, Willian can’t make a decision which slows our play and takes alot of corners and free kicks short and Pepe can’t take players on. It maybe Mikel has taken their confidence away however at the moment it looks like natural flaws in their games.
    What probably comes from Mikel is the backwards play and how we try really hard to get the CB’s involved even if we’re on the edge of the opposition box.
    The ref was awful yesterday and how he never produced a card was just criminal. Saka especially getting some brutal treatment from the villains without protection from the ref.


  33. It’s even more unbelievable as there has been a trend of kicking Saka in most games. He’s young and plays for England FFS they should be aware and take steps. I wished major Ill to Leicesters Fofana for what was a quite deliberate full blooded kick to his Achilles that should be a red card offence IMO


  34. We are going to have to stop blaming the refs.

    The problems we have are self-inflicted.

    I regret that I must agree with so many of you that Arteta will not change tack, possibly because he has no other way.

    We will see whether, as happened with Emery, the players discipline in doing what they are told starts failing

    Are we already seeing it with Auba’s seeming lack of interest,

    I think that Arteta is lucky there is now a 2 week break,

    Another disaster like yesterday very soon could be almost fatal.

    Why was he not able to get the players to improve during the game?


  35. Not a great night for the right side of the defence but the cover from midfield and Willian was poor from my first viewing.
    given Mikel’s reluctance to switch from playing Auba left even after Klopp snidely told the entire league how to play this system after his back up RB was exposed in the super cup I predict that we’ll see a return for Luiz and Xhaka against Leeds. Good odds on Nketiah starting. 343 or yikes the dreaded 352 as seen against Villa.
    If Mikel thought he could afford to use Xhaka as cover at CB in the EL midweek and then give him a breather for a few PL games/weeks he was mistaken.
    Even if Partey and Xhaka go on to form a partnership in midfield they need someone to pass to. And if that player is Willian Arteta’s problems will persist.


  36. Some things haven’t changed. We’ve all seen what happens to top young talent at the Arsenal over the last fifteen years.
    Saka still carrying a niggle from the LCFC hacking. Should’ve been rested but I guess these are the calls you can make when you can afford to leave world class players out of the squad.

    Sad to say this and some other sad calls are already biting Mikel on the Arse.

    Football is, beautifully, a simple game.
    If he didn’t want to play Mesut all he had to was put him in the midweek team. For one season. No drama. Simple! Now he’s stunk the yard out. Did all this malarkey take Mikel’s eye off the ball?

    I wanted Arteta to be here for the long term when he arrived. The punters are murmuring now perhaps surprising so soon after a cup victory but then again we’ve seen worse.
    Tricky times ahead.


  37. Fortunately OGS was not paying attention to Klopp and played a diamond midfield last week.

    Villa played that classic all too familiar 4231, you’ve seen it before. One reason I look forward to watching them play.

    How did Arsenal line up for their best spell this season? 4231? Can the Gunners play a four with slow CBs like Holding or Luiz? Tough calls ahead. If he wants to play a four will Arteta have to play Mustafi from the current fit and available players? I hope to see him try and find out.


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