Good morning all, it’s been a while.
Tonight we face Crystal Palace in what I suspect will be our biggest test in quite some time. Roy’s boys will set up in a low block and look to hit us on the break, with players ideally suited ,like Zaha, Eze and Townsend. We have struggled, to the point of incompetence, against this system for over 12 months, but that might be about to change. The belated emergence of ESR has made look much more likely to break down such a system. Who knew a 10 would have this effect? Everyone bar Arteta I suspect, but Covid ruling William out saw Mikel stumble on ESR, like a blind Squirrel finding a nut. Still, having found his nut, at least he appears to have the good sense to make use of it. That’s a bonus.
Leno will start, being he is the only keeper we seem to have now. Hector and Tierney are both in good form so they are nailed on and I think the back four, which thankfully we are back to, wil be Holding and Mari. Gabriel is available again, but it would be harsh on their of the other two to leave them out. I’ll whisper this quietly so no one hears, I think Mari has been better than Gabriel anyway.
That takes us into the engine room of midfield. Our captain without the armband, Xhaka will surely start, the question is , with who? Partely is ready and would be his partner normally , but he might be nurtured back from the bench, so Ceballos or Elneny with likely start, the experiment of Willock in CM ,having not worked in the cup.
The front 3 of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Saka looks our best bet, so that’s what I expect.
We all hope that we can turn the season around, the wins that started against Chelsea have at very least given us hope. Arteta’s nut is a game changer, ESR could be the real deal. Ok, he’s still a mile away from Ozil, but that ship has sailed away and been scuppered, so no point crying over spilt magic.
Enjoy the game. COYG.
So ESR starts on the bench tonight then no doubt.
well markyb Arteta has Willian available, so it is likely ESR will be on the bench
Arteta says Sokratis likely to leave this month, Mustafi likely to stay till the summer, and its possible David Luiz will stay beyond this season, no decision taken on that one yet
ESR has to start,
Also I’m really not sure anyone can say Auba is part of our best front three.
The cup game proved even if we didn’t know already Saka and ESR make us tick so to leave them out would be crazy.
Partey has been out for a while and didn’t play much before that so the sensible thing to do is to start with our most successful CM pairing of Xhaka and Elneny.
The same with Gabriel, don’t change a back four unless you have to and Mari and Rob have been doing really well so we stick with them.
Hard game tonight but if we’re positive and kept the tempo quick we should be fine, COYG.
Brooke Norton-Cuffy signs first professional contract with Arsenal after turning 17 a few days ago. He has already played a few games for the U23’s this season
Premier League director of football Richard Garlick to leave later this year & take up post as director of football ops at Arsenal. Ex-WBA exec was with PL since summer 2018. Succeed Huss Fahmy at #AFC, working on contracts etc
will he kill of the vampires at AFC
Elneny signed for AFC five years ago today
Tonight’s game followed on Monday by another visit from Newcastle, then 4 whole days to prepare for the next FA Cup game, possibly against Southampton who we would face 3 days later in the League. And then, as far as I can make out and depending on our progress in the cup, the games continue to come thick and fast: by and large two a week for the foreseable. As is the case for most clubs, and should they be involved in anything European, then its only going to get more and more crowded. So whatever the rights and wrongs of Arteta and the decisions he makes about Willian and Pepe and Auba and Smith Rowe, I think we can expect to see plenty of rotation over the next month or two: whether that rotation is voluntary or forced only the Gods will know.
Team: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, David Luiz, Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka, Smith-Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Subs: Runarsson, Gabriel, Willian, Cedric, Partey, Pepe, Chambers, Willock, Nketiah.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Kouyate, Mitchell, Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, Eze, Benteke, Zaha.
Subs: Butland, Van Aanholt, Dann, Ayew, Clyne, McCarthy, Batshuayi, Cahill, Riedewald
Kieran Tierney is rested for tonight’s game as a precaution, due to muscle tightness
Whatever the result it needs to be seen against the backdrop of the Ref being a total cnut.
HT: Arsenal 0-0 Crystal Palace
started well, dipped for a while, even enough game so far, if not a quality game
I’m reminded tonight why I did not want us to sign Zaha, he does nothing but whinge all game long,
CP seem to have snaffled SR and Sakha – which is just when you need the deep midfield of Ceballos and Xhaka to step forward, which they haven’t managed to do so far.
The option of starting both Laca & Auba together hasn’t worked well in recent months whatever the rotations required I’d hope that this combo could be avoided.
45 minutes to try and outshoot the Eagles! 2-9 (2-2) in the 1st half. The pgmob handicap isn’t the primary cause of the poor stats for this combo.
Pepe on for Maitland-Niles, looks like Saka to left back
Ceballos off, Partey on
Nketiah on for Lacazette, about ten minutes left to win this
big dive by zaha, nothing new there then
4 minutes of stoppage time for us to do something
FT: Arsenal 0-0 Crystal Palace
a bang average performance, our first home clean sheet of the epl season, but we were so blunt in attack, xhaka our best player by a country mile, lots of sterile possession.
football reasons my arse
Well you say that Eduardo, but to my eyes Xhaka did absolutely nothing to make the game open up for us. The most sterile of tham all this evening I think.
On reflection that was much as I expected. Palace have known how to play against us for a while. And so it proved tonight. We needed moments of magic from Auba and Laca, but they didn’t happen. Hector probably had the best chance just into the second half. Classic case of taking the point and moving on. It will be interesting to see if T. Partey makes a difference to us. Im not holding my breath.
its alright Arteta says the players were tired after playing all those games recently
The contribution that Tierney makes is immense, the fight, the ability to cross a ball and move quickly up field has made such an impact in recent games. Without him tonight I agree it was all very sterile. I find Auba and Pepe so frustrating to watch at the moment I really do t feel that they will make things happen.
Partey? We can only hope.
It was a clean sheet and a point and we didn’t play very well.
i see a lot of hate for bellerin tonight, somehow its his fault we created nothing of note, also pepe was poor cos of bellerin too
Pepe hasn’t created a single chance for team-mates in the Premier League from open play this season:
6 Smith Rowe
Under Emery Arsenal might have started the fixture with five defenders three at the back with only three attackers, and lost.
Tragically for the Arsenal and their league hopes a few years ago such a defeat came after Ozil was reintroduced after the owners made a mad call but there was not much Ozil could do to stop a five man defence conceding three at home under an alleged defensive coach.
Tragically for the Arsenal without Ozil their league hopes this season have been nonexistent after the owners mugged off Arteta into agreeing with their madness and stupidity.
Five wins on the bounce would’ve been nice but unlikely given the half season past. More shots for and few against in the second half, but it is a safe bet that form will be patchy in this period.
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Arteta on Ozil
“There are some conversations with Edu and the club at the moment but nothing concrete yet.”
Given recent comments from Arteta i speculate the combo of Aubameyang Lacazette which appeared to not work well for half a season won’t work that well in the new formation & that the Auba left and Laca central combo will definitely not work as a starting pair against teams that aren’t set up to attack.
It has in the past but I do believe an ageing yet still valuable Aubameyang has to move inside now. I think he agrees. No more flogging of him out there please.
I do understand why Xhaka can frustrate many in such games but Winterburn was full of praise for his game tonight. was Ceballos meant to support the front four more in that dire first half?
He’s an inconsistent player for his age at his desired level. Good game in the cup final but the unfortunately injured Chelsea player knew how to tuck in behind him. I’d like to have seen AMN get more chances in midfield.
Xhaka was brilliant tonight.
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so they said before the game that Tierney was rested cos he had a tight muscle, but after the game Arteta says “Kieran Tierney is a real threat and the way we attack on the left is really important but he is injured and we have to find a solution. He will have an MRI scan tomorrow.”
thank God we still have Kolasinac to cover while Tierney is missing, oh wait
Mikel Arteta was left frustrated after our winning run was ended by a stalemate with Crystal Palace on Thursday night.
Afterwards, he faced the media and this is what he told them:
on how he sums up the game…
I am disappointed because we wanted to win the game but I think the draw is a fair result, because we lacked some presence and some quality in the final third to win tonight.
on the calls from the authorities for players to limit unnecessary body contact…
I don’t know the answer to that question. What we can control and what we are trying really hard to do is to try to follow all the guidelines, all the rules but sometimes that becomes difficult because there are a lot of emotions involved in the game. Obviously, it’s good to do fist bumping but there are 25 actions where we have to grab each other on every set-piece. We are being tested every three days and we are trying to do all the right things and sometimes it makes sense to be all the time demanding that but at sometimes there are things that are pretty complicated.
on whether Mesut Ozil is closer than ever to leaving the club…
Well, I don’t know how close he has been before. There are some conversations going with Edu and the club at the moment, but nothing concrete yet.
on Kieran Tierney’s injury…
We don’t know [how long he’ll be out for]. We’ll probably know more tomorrow after testing him and knowing more about the injury and how long he’s going to be out for. Certainly it was a big disappointment on the day of the match to lose him, but hopefully he can be with us very quickly.
on whether it was difficult to adjust our attacking plans after losing Tierney…
It is a challenge when you create a game plan for the day and just a few hours before the game he has to pull out. But we have other players to do it and they have to step in. Kieran’s progression over the last few months has been incredible and now it’s for another player to step in and do what he does.
Copyright 2021 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.
I’m glad you posted those Xhaka stats George, he was immense and MOTM by a mile and I include the palace players in that.
I have long said people comment on the result and not the game and I think that was the case last night. I thought we played quite well certainly better than the Newcastle game and many of the games we have won
Obviously reassessing my ‘Xhaka was sterile’ comment in light of those stats: comment now upgraded to ‘Heady was pissed’.
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No doubt Xhaka had excellent game. Definitely not ideal for pretty much all responsibility at stopping counters and breaking up play to be on his shoulders, though, from midfield at least. It was frequently hairy, matter of inches, straining every sinew, and that one on Zaha 1st half looked a booking to me, so it would have been hairy as can be after that if he’d been on yellow.
Game was a classic of genre of it being so damn hard to find space against such a solid deep defence, while opponents have wonderful space to work with when they break in their pods of 3/4. I find it cruel almost. Late stages it can be hard to bear.
Palace perhaps one of the better ones at it of mid-ranking premier teams, certainly one of the most well-schooled or settled at it, with their experienced pro’s, vastly experienced manager, expectations well suited to it, and years of playing that way.
We all know that players who are missing in such games are talked up and I think this is the case with Keiran. He started against Newcastle and we were awful. Now I’m not saying he isn’t playing well but he certainly isn’t “the difference” . This is a team game and there are a core of players who we need to play to make the team tick.
Hopefully we can add to this core and build a team and eventually a squad that’s good enough to play football again.
Our manager discussed some key fitness questions about his squad, Steve Bruce, our clean sheet record and more. This is what he said:
on Richard Garlick’s appointment as director of football operations…
We lost Huss [Fahmy] at the start of the season. He had a really important role because it is a very important link between myself, Edu the technical director, the board, Vinai. We needed a person with a lot of experience, who knows the job really well, has all the connections in English and international football. As well, someone that can bring some ideas and some qualities that we believe are required to [run] the business the way we want. I am really excited. I met him. He is certainly the candidate we wanted and now we have to respect the process. He is at the Premier League at the moment and we will see when we can get him.
on whether Garlick’s appointment takes pressure off him…
It’s not about the pressure, it’s contribution, it’s to bring people into our team that are better than us in certain things. That’s going to make us better. We had to replace Huss, and Huss had a really important role not only with the first team but with the academy, and a lot of administration work he’s been doing with other entities across Europe. We needed to replace him, there was no question about that. We were looking for months and we all decided that the best person to do that was Richard.
on Pablo Mari…
He had a calf injury in training [on Wednesday]. I think he will miss a few matches. He’s another one we will lose but we’ve got Gabi [Magalhaes] back after COVID, which is good news, we’ve got Thomas back as well. Let’s focus on the positives.
on whether Thomas Partey is ready to start…
Well he’s made the right step. Obviously he hasn’t played much football in the last four months. He had an injury in exactly the same place he had before when he got injured against Spurs. Now we have the reassurance that he can compete. He did it for 25, 30 minutes. He did it well, he didn’t feel anything so now we’re going to be looking for the next step
on four cleans sheets in a row…
It’s very positive because that s the foundation to win any game, and gives you a great opportunity to go on and win every single game. [Against Crystal Palace] we lacked that quality in the final third, that are needed against teams like Palace. Roy is a manager who gets teams really organised, they have been so successful against big teams over the years because they are a real threat as well in transition and on set pieces. We lacked that against them.
on whether he feels for Steve Bruce after a bad run of form…
Absolutely. When you are sitting in one of these chairs, you suffer and you have a lot of empathy for your colleagues. We all know what it takes, how much we suffer and as well Brucey is a top guy, a really good manager as well but a top guy too.
on what it takes to get through a difficult period…
First, you need support from the club, that is for sure, then you need to feel as well what your fans and supporters can see what you are trying to build. Then the most important part for me is the feeling you have with the players. When you feel that the players are on board and they are really trying for you, that they are behind you, that gives you a big energy. Probably when you feel that the players are lost and not behind you, that is difficult.
on needing to stick to your beliefs…
Yes, in my opinion more than ever. Things can be a bit difficult to see but you have to be able to see and analyse everything that happens, but as well adapt. You cannot be so stuck, sometimes you have to adapt and change some things to try to move and shake things around a little bit to try to find a way. But the margins of this game, a very low-scoring game, win or not win, they are [tight] margins for that.
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