We can all a 4-2 have a laugh today

That was fun! And hey, who knew that iIt turns out that scoring goals is fun, winning games is fun, and fun is why I follow the team. As Wenger once said: “I like to think that the paying fan wakes up the morning of the game and thinks ‘ah yes, my team is playing today’ and he will be transported to a more beautiful world than his daily routine. I like to set myself the ambition to give him this hope, this excitement about coming to see the team play – even if I know I will let him down sometimes.”

The best bits from yesterday were:

Scoring four goals on 4 shots on target with an xG of 2. Much has been said lately about the expected goals to goals difference and I’ve tried to politely (ok, I’m not good at politeness, I’m sorry) say that looking at xG in small batches like 2-4 games is problematic because of simple variance. In other words “stats happen”. Expected goals is good for large samples and not so good for small samples. It can tell you part of the story of a game but not all of the story. And of course since there is a lot of variance, you can get a big swing from one week to the next. For example, the day before yesterday people were yelling at me that we were “-6 goals” or something based on some calculations they had done on the last few games. But after yesterday’s 4-goal splurge, Arsenal’s goals scored (49) and expected goals (50.2) for the season have swung back to just -1.

Another big topic these last three weeks has been how players miss chances and how young players in particular don’t quite know how to turn 0.6 xG shots into 0.15 xG shots. There’s some merit to that idea but there are serious limitations to what a player can do on their own or even collectively against a defense which is set up to defend deep. Two moments from yesterday’s win over Chelsea are great examples.

The first was Timo Werner’s goal. He hit a shot from outside the box which was blocked and also took a deflection before going in. In my xG model, I don’t even count blocked shots from outside the box because they are typically converted at such a low rate that I found that counting them like normal shots artificially raised my xG numbers.

One thing I find very useful about the Statsbomb xG model is that it does something similar (and better, I would admit) in that it discounts shots when defenders are in the way. In other words, the more crowded the box, the lower the xG. This is, incidentally, why I think score effects were so damaging to Arsenal’s xG to actual goals ratio. In other words, Arsenal were getting a lot of shots against opponents the last few weeks but they were shots where the opponent had 10 players in the box and even a decent shot in that situation has a lower xG than a similar shot on a counter attack, for example.

Like Nketiah’s shot for his opening goal! His shot there was awarded 0.35 xG while Smith Rowe’s shot in the 44th minute (which he fashioned himself from whole cloth) was given 0.1 xG. Nketiah’s shot was a function of team pressure, forcing a mistake and capitalizing on that mistake to create a wide open chance, while Smith Rowe’s shot from literally almost the exact same spot was a shot he created for himself from what looked like a closed down situation. When I talk (endlessly) about how the team needs to create those “big chances” and how important they are for scoring goals this is what I mean. It was fantastic that Smith Rowe fashioned that shot but Arsenal’s press (which is a coordinated, team effort, that the coaches organize) is far more important and in fact, more reliable in terms of creating chances. There’s a reason why Pep and Klopp have their teams press high up the pitch. Arsenal’s press yesterday was just as important to the goals scored.

Xhaka nutmegs Alonso. I’m just going to put this out there: if Granit Xhaka nutmegs you, your career is officially over. It was a funny one too because Arsenal were being hemmed in their own box by Chelsea pressure and it looked like no one wanted the ball. But Xhaka did something that my guess is that Arteta wouldn’t be too happy about and went ahead and dribbled out of the 18 yard box, nutmegging Alonso along the way. It was then his pass to Smith Rowe (who passed to Saka who passed to Ode who passed to Smith Rowe) which started the goal.

Smith Rowe’s got flavor. After Smith Rowe scored his goal with a perfectly passed ball into the corner, James Benge on twitter mentioned that he’s seen Smith Rowe score a similar kind of goal in many games this season. Benge is right. I went back through the highlight reels and Smith Rowe seems to have a shot that he prefers where he just calmly places the ball past the keeper. Usually right footed across the keeper. What’s interesting here is that Bernardo Silva (aka the Nard Dog) also scored a goal like that yesterday against BHA. Nard Dog gets a lot of plaudits for his very calm approach to those scoring chances and is often compared to Messi who was similarly (ok, much better) prolific with those shots. I’d like to give the same credit to Smith Rowe (aka the Croydon Messi). It takes ice water in the veins to stay calm in those moments and a lot of practice to have the technique to one touch pass the ball into the net for a goal. I’m a life-long member of the “smash it into Row Z” club but there was a month in my 40’s where I suddenly had some clarity and scored 10 goals with this calm approach. So, I am an expert.

Saka winning a pen. LOL at the pundits and Azpilicueta complaining that the penalty was soft. The only funny part of this for me is that I thought Jon Moss was poor all night. I don’t know if it was intentional or he just missed a lot of things but Mason Mount put in two terrible, studs up, challenges on Arsenal players and got away with both of them. Moss also found a way to block an Arsenal pass in the Chelsea final third and then a few seconds later get in the way as Saka was dribbling. I would have given that a pen and like I’ve said often about refereeing, it’s a judgement call.

Saka scoring a pen. I’ve been waiting for this since the Euros. I’ve made no secret that I thought Southgate and the leadership on that squad bottled that final by putting all the pressure for the late penalties on players like Saka, Sancho, and Rashford. But it was what it was, it was in the past and there’s nothing we can do about it now, except to get back up there and score a penalty when you are given the chance. Arsenal don’t win many pens and Lacazette is the first choice penalty taker so it was always going to be a long wait before Bukayo could take one again and put Euros behind him. But I’m very happy for him for getting and taking his chance yesterday.

Tuchel moaning about the pitch and about how his team scored all the goals yesterday. This joker went out there and tried to say that his team scored all the goals and that the pitch was to blame anyway. I really hope Chelsea make a complaint and that the FA start an investigation into the way that Arsenal prepared the pitch for this game which was held at Stamford Bridge, in South West London.



  1. Thanks, pretty much agree with all that.
    Couple of additional thoughts:
    1. Saw some complaints about Ramsdale, even yesterday. I didn’t think there was much he could have done about either of those. The deflection on the first wrong-footed him badly, and the second was from close in with a lot of pace. It would have been luck for any keeper to have kept out either of those.
    2. Arseblog made an excellent point today about the first goal…no way Laca scores that. He’s not fast enough. Eddie might or might not be worth keeping longer term, but that was definitely proof of why we need a striker with the speed to run behind and keep defenders honest.

    1. Agree on Eddie and speed. That was pure Auba. Laca’s not scoring that, true. But then again, he’s not taking up that position, on the last man’s shoulder. He’s in the middle of the park, getting involved in the play. The setup gave Eddie freedom to menace the back line.

    2. There’s a lot to be said for familiarity in the PL, and Eddie has the advantage of being an unknown quantity. Players will often ride the confidence that comes with that into a nice run of form, with an extreme example being Joe Willock last season. Once a body of work is built on you though it becomes a lot more difficult to replicate that form. All that to say I don’t think Eddie has the tools, either physically or technically, to be a striker for Arsenal, even off the bench, even if he wanted that type of role. It’s wonderful for us that Eddie is out there and that he scored. I absolutely agree that we need a striker who can do a bit of both and he’s able to fill that void for now. I hope he signs a new deal so Arsenal can get a transfer fee for him. I think he could have a lovely career in a lower tier PL or Championship side.

  2. Excellent analysis.

    (now some points from the last thread…)

    My favourite Arsenal goal was the second, Emile arriving late to finish first time like prime Aaron Ramsey. Perfect weight of pass from Ode. Eddie’s first channeled Aubameyang… hanging off the shoulder of the last man, and beating him with pace. So much for hold up play. A lot of successful teams do not play with a classic 9 fulcrum. Teams had worked us out with Laca leading the line. It worked well at the turn of the year, but sometimes you have to switch things up when teams counter them.

    Full credit to Arteta blowing things up tactically. He played a back 3 (bringing in Holding) with Saka dropping back to RWB, he dropped Martinelli and Sambi, brought Elneny into CM, and played Eddie on the inside left channel and leading the line. He brought back ESR to start. The role of bringing others into play fell to Odegaard.

    As you say, Xhaka bringing the ball out from the back like prime Beckenbauer for the 2nd, beautifully counter-attacking goal was gorgeous. Had to rub my eyes. Thought initially that it was Ben White.

    On the not so bright side, Ramsdale is playing like he needs a spell on the bench. He’s been brilliant for us, but has looked jaded of late. This isnt about reacting late to the deflected goal. He was unsighted, I think by White.

    1. I would probably give Leno a game or two, although we’ve seen how inferior his distribution is. With our attacking game so off, not sure we can afford that.

  3. I thought this might be a good game to break our funk, and so it proved. I didn’t think we’d win, mind, but not having to labor to break down a team that would be happy to sit deep and hit us on the counter was likely to give us a welcome change. And Nketiah is much better suited to that sort of play than our usual style. So this worked for him. Useful to have a player of that type around, but for how many games in a season? Surely someone like Martinelli, who has pace and power and can occasionally finish, but can also play in our usual game, could do the job?

    I wonder if we play similarly against United, even though we’re at home. They won’t sit in a deep block and defend, but for us to play counter seems strange. To me, this goes either way. If we attack, we’re more likely to break them down than someone like Brighton in current form, but they’re also more likely to punish us repeatedly than a team like Brighton. Despite Man Utd being in the toilet at the moment, they could still do us. And if they do, it’s curtains.

    In the last 4 game and next 2, I would’ve wanted 11 points (7/9 from the first 3, 4/9 from Chelsea, United,Wham). Spurs losing to Brighton means 8 points would suffice, since I see it as a 2 horse race for now. We’ve taken 3 of those points. Beat United AND West Ham and, coupled with Spurs’ unexpected loss to Brighton, those 3 losses at the start of this run are forgotten. But that’s a big, big ask.

    1. The win yesterday was big, but we still have a job to do. Utd are kind of a mess, and Wham’s defense has injury troubles. So those are doable, but we need to also not coast against the mid-table teams, as we see where that got us.
      Spurs have to go to Anfield, where Liverpool will certainly be trying to win and keep the pressure on City. That’s tougher than any of our remaining matches. If Spurs lose that, we can probably afford a tie in the match against them.

  4. Another great post Tim. I think there are kudos to the manager for getting some things right here. We stunk up the place on 3 games we should have won, but injuries can be very de-stabilizing, so I have some sympathy. It is his 3rd go-round, so one has to see results at this stage. We’re better than we have been this season, but that 3 game spell was inexcusable. A complete end-of-season collapse was the one scenario where I could justify giving him the boot. One win against Chelsea doesn’t eliminate that possibility imo.

    Also, belated kudos to you for the incredible self reflection and self-awareness you’ve shown in the last several posts. So much of what’s wrong in the world is the inability to recognize and accept when we need to re-think, re-examine or question the positions we’ve taken, however stridently. I’ve seen you do this consistently over the years here, in a very public way that’s incredibly refreshing. Thanks fot the example. BTW – I’m reassessing my Top 4 prediction these days. 🙂

    Zed – been pondering how to play against United as well. We could very well end up with a scrappy contest like the Chelsea game, where there’s a lot of back and forth. They’re a disorganized bunch so we should be able to find space. If Tomi comes back, that would be a huge boost.

    Claude – I have had the same feeling about Ramsdale. Looks a little skittish – more like a lot of false bravado rather than real confidence. Playing at home may help him a bit, I hope.

    That was a cathartic match, especially for such a young squad, to get back some confidence and just score some goals. Eddie had been getting opportunities and beating up the woodwork recently. So happy he found the net – it could do wonders for him.

    We’re still in this.

    1. The whole defense looks skittish at times and no wonder. We are playing with reserves at both fullback positions and are without the Partey security blanket in midfield. That’s a huge reason for our recent struggles at the back. Ramsdale was described as a confidence player and hopefully these last two wins will help him get his mojo back because he’s certainly not in the form he was in the first half of the season.

  5. I remember saying in the past that Arteta wants everything too exact, all in accordance with his plans, and he only loosens the shackles when he is in trouble. 4 losses in a row would be too much, so players got some freedom. But he’ll be having nightmares about this and will invariably go back to demanding efficiency and precision from them. I think he can’t help himself.

    It wasn’t a classic game or performance. But it was enjoyable, even when we weren’t winning. Scary enjoyable at times, but still fun. I like this. Football needs to be a balance between structure and chaos. Managers need to trust their players and allow them to make mistakes. Without it, that Xhaka move doesn’t happen and we probably stay pegged in to our defensive third, at which point under pressure someone probably makes a mistake anyway. We gain momentum through freedom. I hope the manager keeps on allowing them to play with it.

    Ramsdale has been a bit iffy of late and I wonder if he hasn’t fully recovered from his injury. Mentally at least.

    ESR was my guy from way back in 2018. I liked the look of him and picked him to as the one guy most likely to make it – Saka came out of nowhere (thanks Freddie) – ESR always seems to have time. It’s not quite Cesc-y, but he doesn’t ever look like he’s rushed. I also like Eddie and I think he has been unfairly treated by both Emery and Arteta, who yesterday said so, but if I were Nketiah, I wouldn’t stay. It makes me sad how we’ve mismanaged our homegrown talent while spending hundreds of millions and finishing 8th. I feel like this is a huge loss to the club in the long run.

    But the only way to minimise that now is to get the CL. It has a bit of a now or never feel to it. I hope we get it, and once again, the way to do that is to allow some chaos in our game. More fun football please.

  6. Lovely Wenger quote.

    Between the stats and the eyes analyses above – both great – we seem to be in “throw it on a wall and see what sticks” territory. This is absolutely fine by me – football is a chaotic game*, the manager’s pre-existing ideas were badly under-baked, and the consequences of missing out on top 4 will be unpleasant.

    Also, someone said “take a lucky general over a good one any day”. After two good managers who deserved more breaks than they got (especially from referees), I’ll happily take two gift goals for a nearly-gone player in a derby to bring our season back from the dead. Don’t care if Saka’s was a soft penalty, very happy our guy’s learning that the league penalizes fair play. He may win us a title yet.

    * as Arteta seems to have epiphanised this week (https://arseblog.news/2022/04/arteta-we-need-to-find-a-way-to-win-football-matches/)

  7. LA, great, even-keeled sentiments. No, one swallow does not make a summer, but Im going to try to be consistent and fair. Not reactive game by game, but consistent… apply the same standards to our wins as to our defeats.

    One of the knocks against Arteta (not from me, this one… I have others) is tactical rigidity and being too controlling… Im going to give him all the props in the world for tactical boldness. Not only that, he got the players properly in the mood for that one. My knock is that he made his bed on attacking stocks, and left us short. If Eddie allows him to lie comfortably in it, that would be great. But the squad inadequacies are of his own making. Im not buying “poor Mikel… look what he’s got to work with, and 4th would be a miracle”. No he was given the tools and conditions for Top 4. All that said, he deployed Eddie smartly yesterday, and blew up his attack buildup blueprint.

    Not mentioned enough was Nuno’s hand in 2 of the goals. Yes he was culpable in the run and finish of Azpi, but the main guilty party there was Gabriel, who was ball watching. We biffed Arteta for treating Nuno shoddily; so give the manager credit for doing what needed to be done to restore his confidence.

    Im working on the assumption that he’ll be with us for sometime, no matter what. But getting good results in the last 6 games would obviously help.

  8. I applaud the headline Tim. It made me laugh out loud, while being such a reach. I needed that.

    But Tim, can you get in touch with me via email. I have something to send you.

  9. Arteta to Xhaka, paraphrasing Major League, “Nice nutmeg. Don’t ever f#$%ing do it again.”

  10. It’s sad of course that Tavares wasn’t playing, but with Arteta when you’re out you’re all the way out – and anyway the kid’s confidence has been destroyed by the harsh way the manager has treated him.

    That’s not surprising, because this man does not understand ownership. Before the game, in his usual display of disloyalty, he slammed his own players for three consecutive defeats and said that all criticism should be directed at them. “Hit them, not me” he said. “I am not responsible.” He has form for this, of course, back in December 2020 at our lowest point, he said the same thing. He has never accepted responsibility for any defeat, or for benching players, he has never apologised, and never said “it’s my fault”.

    After the win, as usual he took all the credit. He told the press “these guys are lazy assholes. Frankly I don’t like any of them, and when I personally win these matches for Arsenal my only regret is that it undoes the work I put in every day to keep them obedient and crush their spirits. Culture! (lol).”

    When questioned about Nketiah’s minutes he bristled at any suggestion he might not know everything and responded with disdain, indicating that any player who dared to challenge him or express dissatisfaction would never play for him again. “Robots. I want meek, obedient robots.”

    …sorry everyone, all meant in fun. Genuinely grateful for the posts Tim, and for the conversation all.

    It’s certainly a refreshing change, after three frustrating defeats, to see Arteta lean in to the chaos by picking Eddie up front, a dog off his leash, and pressing the ever loving sh*t out of Chelsea. Agree with Claude, Arteta deserves a lot of credit for the formation(s) and selection – but also agree with Arteta, the players were excellent, they all rose to the challenge.

    I’m not complacent – we needed some luck for at least 2 of the goals, we needed Chelsea to come forward and make mistakes, and we are not nearly precise enough in some of our passing. I still don’t think that performance would have beaten Brighton or Palace. But it was good.

    1. OMG Greg I bought it hook line and sinker! Was getting ready to write a rabid response. Hilarious. Made my day!

    2. Fans also lauded the referee for an impeccable performance and said “once again, proof that English referees are the best in the world.” Fans also praised VAR for helping to “get all the calls right” and said that slowing the game down temporarily was worth it for accuracy.

  11. Great post Tim

    Really a big surprise to score 4 against Chelsea after only scoring 1 in the prior 3 games. We need to consolidate that win with another tomorrow against ManU. XG and just about everything we discuss on the blog is more accurately evaluated with a large sample size of data.

    Hopefully someone will correct me if I am wrong but I think Smith-Rowe and Saka are the first 2 academy grads scoring in double figures in league goals in this century. Arsene tried everything he could to build attacking players from ground up especially during the “project youth” era but was never able to do this. Arteta did something in 2 1/2 seasons which Arsene tried his best but never did, and it seems like that should be a big deal. Arteta also has us competing for 4th place with a team whose leading scorers had a grand total of 8 combined league goals in their entire careers prior to this season. To me that seems like a remarkable accomplishment and it seems like that deserves some praise rather then calls for his sacking.

    1. For sure there’s an element of luck in having a generational talent like Bukayo coming through on your watch… however completely agree it is credit to Arteta for having the confidence to consistently field the youngest team in the PL.

      We’ll find out over the next few weeks results how history will judge the ditching of experience in favour of youth, but while Arteta can be knocked for many things, his conviction and trust in playing his youngsters deserves praise.

      Ps on the subject of young(ish) players I saw from a recent Guardian article that Sterling, Mahrez and Jesus are all approaching one year left on their contracts – and at least one will make way for Haaland. The subsequent links of Jesus to us make sense, aside from the ‘is he Brazilian and is his first name Gabriel’ jokes.

      1. The assumed upside of trusting young players is that they repay the loyalty. That assumption has proven untrue too many times in Arsenal’s past. In addition, our youngest team in the PL has been achieved through the transfer market, which is not the same as trusting academy players. I don’t mind the mix of youth/experience/academy/market as long as we progress up the league. But playing a young team is not a goal in itself.

        The other possible upside in playing a young team is that they’re fearless. Arteta seems less interested in that aspect of youth.

  12. Shard @ 10:45

    I understand you don’t like Arteta but the idea Arteta would see something work but then go back to something that did not work just because his thinking is so one track and rigid seems way over the top. Its hard to imagine that someone who grew up in the Barcelona system played for Wenger and was taught to coach and heavily praised by Pep would be that stupid. Additionally he is not coaching on an island. He has a whole coaching staff and scouts and Edu in the front office to help if he misses something. I can’t believe the whole organization is nothing but yes men who would let him do stupid things without any questions.

    Same thing with this idea which seems to be floating around that Arteta is a fascist dictator who hates everyone who looks at him the wrong way. Do you really think the organization would not see same thing if it were true and why would they let him run roughshod and dump players willy nilly if it was not part of a long term plan and they were not in agreement with what is being done. Now we have to start believing in some sort of institution wide insanity.

    1. How do you figure? Do you believe institutions cannot make bad decisions except through collective insanity? Do you think institutions cannot distribute accountability while concentrating decision making power?

      But hey, if ‘the organization’ really made long term plans to buy/re-up and dump Willian, Mari, Auba, to refuse the sale of AMN only to not use him before loaning him out, to not bring in William Saliba until year 4 of his 5 year deal while spending money they could have spent in midfield/attack, then maybe they are all insane.

      Or you know, the people manning the organization don’t necessarily have the same outlook, interests, and incentives as fans or even the owners. there are ways to keep both happy without doing the greatest job. In fact, if we listen to Wenger, much of the manager’s job in today’s football is to do exactly this ‘external’ management. Which would also give Mikel more power than others in the organization. He is quite literally the ‘face’ of this project.

      I don’t inherently dislike Mikel Arteta. I loved him as a player and as a captain. I wanted him to get the job. I dislike him due to his actions, and I don’t think he is a good manager based on his body of work.

      As for what seems way over the top to you, is not a hypothetical. It is what Arteta has done in the past. I have made note of it before saying he only lets them play when he is in trouble. Which, again, why is it far fetched? When in a corner, every manager is willing to go against their instincts. Wenger went defensive to prioritize a clean sheet. Arteta gives his players more freedom.

    2. You do know Mourinho started his career with Barcelona right? Solskjaer was ‘educated’ extensively by Ferguson. Didn’t translate.

      Also, Arsenal went unbeaten – *unbeaten* – in the league in 2004, made the Champions League final in 2006. KSE bought its first stake in the club in 2007. Since then, we have been nowhere near winning either.

      What makes you believe they know what it takes to win football matches?

  13. “someone who grew up in the Barcelona system”
    “can be that stupid”
    “the whole organization is nothing but yes men who would let him do stupid things without any questions”

    What a pile of reductive nonsense from Bill, Mr Black and White.

    However, it is refreshing to see him crediting the coach after he won a game! When he loses games, Bill is all “there is nothing a coach can do”. Nothing, that is, except overhaul team, tactics and formation. I thought he wouldn’t show his face after the last result made a nonsense of his arguments.

    Bill, Arteta doesnt get to claim credit for the development of Saka and ESR, anymore than the trust fund kid gets to laud his moneymaking skills for the $10 million he inherited. The only difference-making player on the pitch today that he gets to claim credit for is the sublime, excellent Odegaard, who arrived on his watch on loan and as a purchase. The only attacking player that Mikel bought in 2 and a half years is Willian.

    However, he get top 4 with an intentionally depleted attack, chapeau to him. And to ESR, Saka and Ode.

    And by the way, even “someone who grew up in the Barcelona system” can be flawed.

    Really really good game at the Emirates, and if we hold on to 3-1 (6 minutes to go in regulation as we speak), it’ll be a defining result.

    1. Claude, I think you and I have both interpreted Bill’s point on ESR and Saka very differently. Bill can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think he was saying that Arteta developed them. Instead he was giving Arteta credit for trusting in them and playing them and thereby enabling them to score double figures.

      We all know that Arsene had no fear of playing youths but the closest comparison I can think is Serge Gnabry. Yes Wenger played him, but he left us (and scored more than 10 goals elsewhere in his next season) because he wasn’t playing anywhere near enough (plus a f*ing stupid loan to Tony Pulis). Contrast that with Arteta doubling down on playing Saka and ESR by benching and/or selling their more experienced counterparts including our record signing. Arteta deserves credit for that.

      Ps typical that a few hours after my comment above on Jesus he adds either more £ or more suitors to his potential signing.

      1. Pps goes without saying but delighted with the 3 points today. Not sure if we’ll be able to ride our luck to the end of the season, but who knows!

  14. That was a crazy match. I guess we’re missing players, but the defense that looked pretty solid early in the year was all over the place. Fortunately, they were even worse.
    Still depended on Fernandes rare penalty miss as that 20 min period in the second half had me pulling my hair out. Tavares is great as a wingback. Needs some work as FB.

    But not complaining. Credit where credit is due. Arteta and this young team got a couple of really good results this week.

  15. Hi everyone. Long time!

    I’m sure Tim will cover the MU game and I haven’t even seen it so I’ll leave that for later. I did just watch Tottenham draw 0-0 with Brentford though. Seeing as they’re our main competition for 4th, I wanted to just jot down a few observations.

    I know they’ve won a lot of games lately but in this one, Brentford were the better team from beginning to end. Pontus Janssen had Harry Kane in his pocket and ironically, Spurs were missing someone exactly like Christian Eriksen. They have some very blunt instruments in midfield, neither able to carry the ball or find telling passes in the final 3rd. Their wing-backs were terrible too. Emerson Royal is not a good defender but Conte started him on the right, only to funnel all of their attacks up the left with Sessegnon. Brentford, for their part, reminded me of Iceland in the Euros from a few years back: bunch of Vikings and one player with real quality (Gylfi then, Eriksson now). I was just waiting for the Brentford fans to start the Viking Clap. Kane must have been having flashbacks. Then, as now, the Vikings deserved to this game.

    What does this mean for us? Their remaining fixtures are Leicester, Liverpool, us, Burnley and Norwich. Of those teams, I expect Liverpool to beat them and Leicester and Burnley have a chance as well because they can play compact football, eh, sometimes at least. When we play them, it will be crucial to cut out the service to Kane and Son, suffocate those guys and make everyone else play. Do that for 90 minutes and we should be able to win. This Spurs team is not scary. Destiny in our own hands, friends!

    1. I might write something tomorrow. Very happy for the win but I’ve been acting unhealthy lately and need to get my head back.

      1. Take care of yourself! Let us all know if you need support. You give us so much I hope one day I can somehow repay it.

    2. Good to see you back, Doc!

      I have a personal moratorium on watching Sp*rs, as they literally score within 5 minutes of me tuning in every time I watch. I may go rewatch this match, as I’m very curious what Conte can make of this team. Gabriel has put Kane in his pocket recently, and I’m hoping by doing so we shut them off. If Tomi is back in form he can manage Son, as he did in the last NLD. My big concern is Tavares trying to mark Son on the left side. That could prove very problematic. I fully expect them to work up that side, assuming Tomi is back by then (let’s hope!!!)

  16. Happy with our win and our performance, but it’s scandalous that the powers made Arsenal play United in the early game on Saturday, after playing Chelsea on Wednesday. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d probably conclude that they wanted to disadvantage us… but Im not a conspiracy theory, so I won’t.

    TV has a lot to with the scheduling, and Im puzzled that the weekend’s marquee matchup isnt in the Sunday afternoon slot. Those 2 results on such a short turnaround are massive. Mikel justifiably complained about the scheduling, and then he just got on with it. Great result. We The Arsenal dont like 7amkickoffs (copyright Tim), particularly against big teams. History pointed to a negative result, but if this is the new Arsenal, Im all for it.

    All in all, a good week. We took points off the team above us and one of the teams below us, and the team level pegging with us got held by Brentford. Plus we improved our GD +4. Spurs GD is +6 better and is probably uncatchable, but improving ours doesnt hurt.

    Why are so many gooners so cautious about claiming 4th? It is there for the taking, always has been this season, ATBE.

    1. That was a hot mess Saturday. Watching back the highlights and looking at XG makes me wince. Defense was porous. So glad to see Tomi return to the pitch. We can be much more comfortable about Nuno marauding up the left if Tomi returns a bit of stability to RB.

      Still clinging to my 4th prediction. As you say, it’s there for the taking. Our magic number is 14 – Any combination of points we take and Sp*rs drop gets us 4th.

      Assuming they lose to Pool away (although nothing can be assumed this season), that’s 3 points. Another draw and it’s 5 points. So we need 3 wins or 2 W 3 D. That seems doable.

      With Hammer injuries, suspensions and Europa League, I like our chances. Leeds and Newcastle seem very winnable too. I just hope it doesn’t come down to the final day vs Everton playing to avoid relegation. They have had our number recently.

      In August, if you’d said we would have drastically cut the wage bill and were 2 points up in 5th place with 5 games to go, I would have bitten your hand off to take that offer. We will close this deal!

    1. He’s also one of the dullest tv pundits ever. Which might explain him coming up with this to generate some interest.

      1. Same here. And if Roy Keane weight in and knocks him, I’ll dial that up a notch

        and hey, take all the rest you need to, buddy. Even if goes right up to our 4th place open top bus parade at the end of May…. 🙂

  17. I fuc$%ng hate Man U.

    I’m currently gigging and touring on top of everything else, but it was the by far the most stressful, least enjoyable game of the season for me. I was so out of sorts.

    Long-Suffering-Wife-of-1-Nil just started talking to me again today – she picked up when I called home!

  18. i haven’t see all the chelsea game but watched the game on saturday. dynamite job by the boys getting it done. man united, like the brooklyn nets, are talented but poorly coached. arsenal rode their luck at times. long may it continue.

    i had no problem with the xhaka nutmeg. sometimes, it’s the best way out. xhaka just took what was given to him. i remember in college megging a guy like two yards in front of my goal. everyone was asking why i took that risk. it was the only way out. i was looking to play a ball out but a guy reached to close down my pass and his legs opened up like a can of peaches. i dug my heel in the ground…..salat!

    the smith rowe finish was simple. many of the goals the invincibles scored were side-footed, especially henry and pires. i recall a training session i did about 6 years ago where guys were in the box and blasting over the bar. i made everyone finish with their instep. suddenly, goals were like layups. mind you, we were u19s shooting on the u12 goals that night and they were still absolutely torching my keepers. this technique became a more regular training activity after that night. with that, it’s still beautiful to behold as it looks so simple. it really is.

    as chelsea and man utd. are two teams who don’t park the bus, it really suited eddie. it will be interesting to see if arteta persists with eddie this weekend.

    odegaard has been absolutely brilliant lately. words can’t describe how good he is. arsenal got him for a steal.

    tavares is an awful defender and an even worse finisher……and i love this kid. he’s an absolute stud with a great motor and he wants to be a star. he’s a coach’s dream so i can see why arteta signed him. i think he’d run through a brick wall for the club. this is a proper diamond in the rough.

  19. Looks like Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal is inching toward probable. I know his goal-scoring stats aren’t brilliant, and that’s objectively a problem given who we’re trying to replace. Subjectively, I think he could be good for us. He seems to regularly be in good areas, and the ones that he does put away show some evidence of high-level decision-making and ability in front of goal. Seems especially good in the air for someone who is 5’9 – those frustrating diagonal chips into the mixer may serve some purpose next season.

    The less-than-brilliant returns could be some combination of learning his trade, City preferring to spread their chances among a front 4 rather than rely on a striker, and first-choice status without necessarily getting first-choice minutes. Or he could be missing sitters, but I don’t remember that tag being attached to him. I’m inclined to believe (but it is just a belief) that he could be poised for a jump in productivity.

    I remember Tim doing a piece on shots/chances being a better predictor of a young striker’s quality than just goals numbers – I think that was looking at much younger strikers, but I wonder if those takeaways are applicable here.

    The most subjective reasons why I’m in favour – 1. Salah was a Chelsea ‘reject’ before he was “Salah”; 2. when Arteta likes players, they get a very long leash. I have the feeling GJ might thrive with “most favoured player” status.

    1. Also, I don’t personally care about the price. I think the club can broadly afford what it wants to afford – it should want to afford a title. I think the question is/should be “does [player] move Arsenal closer to a title”.

    2. Not a fan. I prefer our Gabriel.

      He does have the most expressive face when things aren’t going his way, though.

      The best thing about him is that he’s 25.

      All that said, he’s got 5 goals in 2 games since the news came out.

      1. Curious if that 5 in 2 is a “hey City, you better think twice about putting me in the shop window” or “hey Arsenal, you’d be a fool to pass this up?”

        1. Who knows? He’d had 3 goals (THREE!) in the league prior to last weekend. But he’s 4th in the league in assists inside the box, 7th in assists, 8th in assists via open play. All this suggests that he’s a team player who brings others into play.

          But after Laca, the last thing we need is a goal-shy knitter of the play, even if the stats show that he is much better than Laca at doing so. We need a goal bully. He’s not that. Or wasn’t until his shop window appearance 🙂

          Ive seen a lot of Jesus for City and Brazil, and I’ve never thought that he was special. Having City on his CV and Arteta in his past doesnt change that. I’m more excited by Martinelli, even if Jesus clearly has more all round play intelligence.

          1. He is in fact a very good creator who consistently gets more assists than expected. He also creates off the dribble which is huge. You just need to lower your expectations for his scoring and you’ll be fine.

    3. Just a note on Salah: he was rejected by Jose Mourinho (who also rejected de Bruyne) but as soon as he went to Fiorentina he started scoring and setting up goals. And at Roma he was deployed wide often. But he was never an underperformer and always converted over his expected goals.

  20. Hope you’re well, Tim, I know you will be.

    Another check in with the table – 60 points after 33 games, 15 points left on the table. All of them winnable, all of them potential banana skins.

    My hope for this season was at least 10 pts better than last season – so min 71 points.

    After dropping 9 available points against Palace, Brighton and Southampton we really need 4 wins from the next 5 games to reach the points tally I was hoping for, which is a tough ask, and disappointing tbh. For a while it looked like we were heading for mid-seventies and 2 points per game, which would have been a real result.

    I was always agnostic about top 4, I’m more interested in finishing above Spurs really than about being in the CL again. I don’t think we’re ready for CL and we’d probably not make it out of the group stages. We need to grow the squad a little first, both in terms of additions and experience.

    Just noting that while it’s very exciting to have the youngest squad in the league perform really well, there is no guarantee that they will continue to develop. We will see more ups and downs with this group, and we need to add experience to balance that out – without wrecking the youthful, enthusiastic vibe or the transfer strategy. This summer’s recruitment will be really tough and really interesting.

    1. At this point, the CL and finishing above Spurs probably isn’t an “or” question. If we do one, we also do the other. There’s remote possibilities now that WHam or Utd would disrupt that, but it’s getting more unlikely. And if we beat WHam this weekend, it gets really unlikely for them.
      As far as the CL goes, I agree, we aren’t really ready to compete at the top levels of that. But, it would be a big deal in terms of recruitment, money, and extra match experience. So even if we got knocked out in the group stage, I’d still think it’s worth it.

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